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The Gospel According to Abraham

Gen. 11:27-32


Our mission:

To glorify God by building a gospel-centered community that proclaims and demonstrates the transforming power of the gospel of Jesus Christ

Short hand – building a gospel centered community

1.  To see the gospel of Jesus Christ in Abraham’s life

Luke 24:27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

2.  To taste God’s faithfulness


·     Next week: gospel promise that will ultimate be fulfilled in Jesus Christ

·     Future weeks: Abraham will fail but God will affirm and expand the promise

·     We’ll see Sarah laugh at the prospect of having the promised child

·     We’ll see God’s election play out despite human decision

·     We’ll see plenty of Abraham’s failures but we’ll see his faith, trust as he takes his only son and is willing to sacrifice him

1.  God’s salvation is completely by grace

2.  God’s salvation is completely a matter of His Sovereign choice

3.  The promises of Abraham are fulfilled in Jesus Christ

4.  Salvation in Jesus Christ is for all nations

5.  The required/appropriate response to God’s saving initiative is faith 


Temple University story

God’s Faithfulness to Position


·     Terah – name means “moon”

o      Lineage comes from Noah through Shem – gospel connection

o      10th generation from Noah

o      He led his family into pagan worship. 

o      Sara – wife of the moon god Sin

o      Milcah – daughter of the  moon god Sin

Joshua 24:2 And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Long ago, your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods.


·     Abram – means ‘daddy’ Abraham means “big daddy”

·     Sarai & Lot – will be part of the fully developed players


·     Ultimately, God is the main player


·     Eph. 4:1 example

·     Chiasmus

·     Chiasmus diagram here


·     Sarai’s barrenness and the author’s emphatic statement

·     Any digression in a genealogy is important


God has not only faithfully positioned them but has also been preparing them

God’s Faithfulness to Prepare

Eph. 2:10 – turn there

·     We get to see God demonstrate this truth

The principle of preparation

·     Moses and David examples


·     Verse 31 – we don’t know Terah’s motive

·     He has already embarked for Canann

·     God chose a man and taught him how to trust Him

·     Heb. says he trusted even though he didn’t know where, how or why


·     Barreness and the culture and identity

·     God was preparing her to be a part of something big!!

·     God has in mind Isaac as a type of Christ – a foreshadow

·     God prepared her by closing her womb – allowing her to get beyond child bearing years

·     Miraculously conceiving – ultimately pointing to Christ

My Preparation

·     Upbringing as a Catholic

·     Small business preparation for church planting

·     Isn’t that true of all of us?


God’s faithfulness to position and prepare is a setup

God’s Faithfulness to Promise

God prepares your circumstances to exalt His glory  

Adding it up

·     Terah’s family are undeserving pagan worshipers

o      There is death & darkness surrounding their family

o      Desperation – inter family marriage to keep the lineage

o      There is finality – no more “Terah and sons”

·     Terah’s family is lost

o      They are wanderers – lost an having no direction

·     Terah’s family is barren

·     The ultimate bitter blow in this society/culture

·     No future name – no future security in old age

God prepares our circumstances to exalt His glory  

·     In the midst of this dark scene God will come and make a covenant promise

·     God’s grace will be manifested to those who deserve his wrath

·     This bleak scene will soon become the circumstances God uses to exalt His glory!

What makes Abram/Sarai distinct is nothing in themselves?

What makes them unique is God’s call, His promise

In this bleak scenario, God intervenes and manifests His grace

Why?  Because

God prepares your circumstances to exalt His glory  


Personal Application

How do you look at your circumstances?

Do you see God working in them to exalt His glory?

Do you taste God’s faithfulness?

·     To the saved – we are just like them

·     To the lost – you might not think you are barren, lost and in darkness

·     God is preparing and working in your circumstances ultimately for the glory of His grace

·     To magnify His majestic glory and to pour out His grace

·     Even when we fail, He persists in His faithfulness

Corporate Application

Keep the gospel the main thing

  1. Build Evangelism
  2. Build Leaders
  3. Build Community
  4. Prepare our Facility
  5. Prepare Financially

A.  Terah’s family introduction

          B.  The family LIVES in Ur

                    C.  The men TAKE wives

                    X.  Sarai’s barrenness

                    C. Terah TAKES the family

          B.  The family LEAVES Ur

A.  Terah’s family conclusion

Hattie Wiatt was a little girl who tried to go to Sunday School in 1884 but found that the church was too crowded.  The pastor saw her and put her on his shoulders and carried her through the crowd into the Sunday School class.  The next day the Pastor saw her and told her someday they would have enough room for all the kids to go to Sunday School.  He didn’t hear from her for two years until her family contacted him to pray for her cuz she was dieing.  She died in 1886 and had a little purse with 57 cents in it and a note that it was to help get another building for the children. 

The pastor cashed the changed into pennies and as a fund raiser asked people to buy the pennies.  He raised $250 and even got 54 of the pennies back and they used the money to purchase a home near the church for more Sunday School space.  They quickly outgrew that house.

The pastor had no money but approached a land owner and inquired about the cost of buying a lot he owned.  The Church wanted to have more space for the church and the Sunday School.  The pastor told the land owner that he only had 54 cents and the land owner said he would take that as the down payment and finance the rest.  The original house the Church bought and outgrew was the first building for what is now Temple University.  The Church they built on the land became Temple Baptist Church. 

Isn’t it amazing what God can do with such meager circumstances?


God prepares Abram to be “the father of the faith”

God prepares Sarai to have a miraculous birth

Genesis 11:27-32 (ESV)

27 Now these are the generations of Terah.

Terah fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran fathered Lot. 28 Haran died in the presence of his father Terah in the land of his kindred, in Ur of the Chaldeans.

29 And Abram and Nahor took wives. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and Iscah.

30 Now Sarai was barren; she had no child.

31 Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife,

and they went forth together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan, but when they came to Haran, they settled there.

32 The days of Terah were 205 years, and Terah died in Haran.

Death, barrenness, lost, unmet expectations, orphaned child

Into this darkness God inserts Himself by His Word

NT says “in just the right time, God sent His Son”

When our need is greatest, the gospel shines brightest

God prepares us when our need is greatest to glorify Himself

God prepares when our need is greatest; to manifest His glory when His grace is brightest

God prepares each of us to produce grace in all of us

Your circumstances are God’s stage to exalt His grace

God prepares your circumstances to exalt the glory of His grace

God prepares your circumstances to exalt His glory  

Chapter 11 – The sin, the sentence and the settlement

Sarai’s name was later changed to Sarah. Both forms are probably from שׂרה, śārāh, “princess,” while “Milcah” comes from מלכה, malkāh “queen.” Šarratu was the wife of the moon god Sin, and Malkātu was his daughter. Both Ur and Harran were important centers of moon worship. It may be that Terah’s family were once involved in such worship (cf. Josh 24:2, 15), though there is no trace of it in the following stories

30 With stark brevity the bitterness of the childless wife is summed up (cf. Judg 13:2–3; 1 Sam 1:2–8; Isa 54:1). Digressions within a genealogy are of special significance, and this is no exception. The whole Abraham cycle is an eloquent witness to the desperate desire for children in primitive society (cf. Pss 127, 128). Without children the man had no one to perpetuate his name and the wife enjoyed little prestige and much frustration, for she had no alternative career to motherhood. Further, in old age, childless couples had no children to care for them, and after death, none to carry out the funerary rites regarded as vital to the soul’s well-being in the afterlife. This traditional motif is given a peculiar piquancy in the Abraham stories in that this barren couple are repeatedly promised a child by God, but there is great delay in the fulfillment of that promise.

We had the family tree of Shem in 10:21–32, but here the writer repeats the line to show how Abraham fits into the plan. He takes the line to Terah, the father of Abraham (11:26). We see here another evidence of divine election: God chose Abraham in His grace! He bypassed Ham and Japheth and chose Shem. Of Shem’s five sons (10:22), God chose Arphaxad (11:10). And of Terah’s three sons (11:26), He chose Abraham. This is the beginning of the Hebrew nation.

Genesis 12:1 indicates that the Lord had said (past tense) to Abraham, “Get out.” But 11:31–32 states that Abraham did not fully obey. Instead of leaving his father behind, he took him along (nkjv); and the pilgrimage was delayed at Haran, where Terah died. Often our half-way obedience becomes costly, both in time and treasure. Abraham lost the time he could have spent walking with God, and he lost his father too. Abraham took Lot with him on the next stage of the journey, but Lot also had to be taken away from Abraham (13:5–14).

Hebrews 11:8–19 is a summary of the faith of Abraham. Someone has said that Abraham believed God when he did not know where (Heb. 11:8), when he did not know how (11:11), and when he did not know why (11:17–19).

We must emphasize again that God did not call Abraham because of his own merits. He had none. He was a citizen of an idolatrous city, Ur of the Chaldees. Had not God revealed Himself to him, he would have died an unbeliever. From a human point of view, God’s choice of Abraham and Sarah—who had no children—was a foolish one. But ultimately it brought great glory to God and great blessing to the world.

A.    The required response to God’s saving initiative is faith

·       N.T. Abraham is the model for faith

·       Heb. 11 – one verse to each hero except 6 to Moses and 12 to Abraham

·       We don’t emphasize election to the exclusion of human responsibility to faith

B.    God’s salvation is completely by grace

·       The biblical writers never forget this/ what can we do to commend ourselves to God?

·       It didn’t just surface at the reformation

B.    God’s promise persists despite human sin and external threats


·       God is absolutely faithful to His promises, and is powerful to bring them about

·       Gen. 12:2 this is where biblical theology begins not in Matt.

·       Gen. 12-50 are obstacle stories

·       Time after time God intervenes to preserve His promises

·       If this were up to Abraham it is history… it ain’t gonna happen

·       Very important theologically – God’s faithfulness is not just a prop but demonstrated throughout the narrative

·       FOUNDATIONAL – God is faithful God/covenant keeping God/ as main thing Scripture says about God – He works to keep His covenant

·       His reliability is acutely expressed with Abraham; vividly illustrated

·       Truthfulness & faithfulness – rock solid

II.   Textual Themes

·       This could be said to be one of the most important texts in all of the Bible

·       Four generations of one family vs. the years of Gen. 4-11

·       A promise that casts its shadow over all of the Bible

·       Babel is contrasted with Abraham

·       Judgment on Bable is reversed with promise to Abraham/ covenant/bond

·       From scattering to gathering via God

A.  The nature of God’s promise to Abraham

·       Aspects that are important in God/Abraham covenant

2.     Gracious – free grace, sovereign grace, nothing re Abraham that would warrant this choice, its not like Abraham is intuitive

·       It’s almost like the covenant comes out of nowhere – descendant of Shem – Joshua 24:2 speaks of the paganism of this area – “we will serve the LORD  and not the other gods” – Abraham’s family’s names are all drawn upon pagan gods names, Terah’s son’s die, Abram is married to a infertile wife – it all speaks of a bleak situation – nothing is impressive of this clan, poor, nomadic, pasture animals, death, barrenness,

·       God intervenes out of nowhere

·       When preaching, don’t just mention the link to N.T. but help people see that God’s promises persist despite human sin

·       Honor Abraham’s role – honor biblical theology – however, while God does deal with Abraham or Paul, think about God more than the role, think about how God deals with people and what comes from God’s character.  I.E. David is chosen by God, his kingdom is a proto typical kingdom, certain aspects of God’s dealings are applicable to me – God’s kingdom cannot be given to any human, it is not safe in any man’s hands. 

3.     Based on God’s election

·       Doctrine of election introduced – all are undeserving but God does choose some. 

·       Human actions cannot change these decisions – Isaac is the promise child despite Abraham/Hagar and Jacob. 

A little girl stood near a small church from which she had been turned away because it was "too crowded." "I can't go to Sunday School," she sobbed to the pastor as he walked by. Seeing her shabby, unkempt appearance, the pastor guessed the reason and, taking her by the hand, took her inside and found a place for her in the Sunday school class. The child was so happy that they found room for her, and she went to bed that night thinking of the children who have no place to worship Jesus.

Some two years later, this child lay dead in one of the poor tenement buildings. Her parents called for the kindhearted pastor who had befriended their daughter to handle the final arrangements.

As her poor little body was being moved, a worn and crumpled red purse was found which seemed to have been rummaged from some trash dump.  Inside was found 57 cents and a note, scribbled in childish handwriting, which read: "This is to help build the little church bigger so more children can go to Sunday School."

For two years she had saved for this offering of love

When the pastor tearfully read that note, he knew instantly what he would do. Carrying this note and the cracked, red pocketbook to the pulpit, he told the story of her unselfish love and devotion.
He challenged his deacons to get busy and raise enough money for the larger building.
But the story does not end there...

A newspaper learned of the story and published it.  It was read by a wealthy realtor who offered them a parcel of land worth many thousands.

When told that the church could not pay so much, he offered to sell it to the little church for 57 cents.

Church members made large donations. Checks came from far and wide.
Within five years the little girl's gift had increased to $250,000.00--a huge sum for that time (near the turn of the century). Her unselfish love had paid large dividends.

When you are in the city of Philadelphia, look up Temple Baptist Church, with a seating capacity of 3,300. And be sure to visit Temple University, where thousands of students are educated.

Have a look, too, at the Good Samaritan Hospital and at a Sunday School building which houses hundreds of beautiful children, built so that no child in the area will ever need to be left outside during Sunday school time.

In one of the rooms of this building may be seen the picture of the sweet face of the little girl whose 57 cents, so sacrificially saved, made such remarkable history. Alongside of it is a portrait of her kind pastor, Dr. Russell H. Conwell, author of the book, "Acres of Diamonds".

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